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State ex rel J.B.

September 27, 2010

STATE OF NEW JERSEY IN THE INTEREST OF J.B., A MINOR.


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Sussex County, Docket Nos. FJ-19-337-08, FJ-19-439-08, FJ-19-496-08, FJ-19-622-08, and FJ-19-502-08.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 15, 2010

Before Judges Cuff, Fisher and Fasciale.

J.B., a juvenile, was adjudicated delinquent for having engaged in conduct which, if engaged in by an adult, would have constituted burglary, robbery, and trafficking in stolen property. In this appeal, the juvenile argues the trial judge erred in admitting the out-of-court statements of two individuals involved in the offenses and in admitting Google Earth maps to prove the juvenile's whereabouts at the time of the burglary. The juvenile also argues the imposition of four consecutive sixty-day terms in a juvenile detention facility was excessive.*fn1 Finding no error or abuse of discretion, we affirm.

I.

The evidence adduced at trial revealed that, on October 24, 2007, the juvenile skipped school and spent the day with two friends, Clinton Mohn and Anthony Williams, as well as his girlfriend, A.S.*fn2 The group drove around in Mohn's car for most of the day before the juvenile was returned to his home at around 11:00 p.m. After a brief verbal argument with his mother, the juvenile went to his room upstairs and logged onto his computer, spending a few minutes accessing social networking sites.

According to Mohn and Williams, who both testified at trial, they met with the juvenile after he slipped out of his house at around 11:45 p.m. that night. After driving around town for about an hour, Mohn suggested burglarizing the home of a friend, Alex Witzl, who was away at college. Williams apparently liked the idea; the juvenile was also "up for it." According to Mohn and Williams, the three arrived at the Witzl residence at approximately 12:30 a.m., broke into the residence, and stole various items, including a jar of coins, a samurai sword collection, and a laptop. Mohn and Williams testified the juvenile remained in their company for several hours thereafter, as they drove around town looking for places to hide the stolen property. During this time, they visited the home of a friend, Omar Abhoulson, who testified the juvenile was present during this visit.

According to Mohn and Williams, the juvenile was returned home at around 3:00 a.m. A few hours later, the juvenile called Mohn seeking a ride to school. Mohn arrived at the juvenile's home at around 7:00 a.m., and drove him to school. However, after smoking a cigarette in the parking lot, the juvenile decided to skip school, and he, Mohn and Williams spent most of the day driving around town trying to sell the stolen swords.*fn3

Defense counsel attempted to discredit Mohn and Williams, suggesting during cross-examination several inconsistencies between their out-of-court statements and their testimony. He further insinuated Mohn and Williams were lying about the juvenile's involvement in the Witzl burglary to curry a better plea deal.

In his testimony, the juvenile acknowledged he was with Mohn and Williams on the day of the burglary, but maintained he returned home at 11:00 p.m., and did not see them again until the next day at school; he adamantly denied participating in the Witzl burglary or the later attempts to sell the stolen goods.

To support his alibi, the juvenile called his mother to testify. She corroborated some of her son's story, claiming she remembered he came home at 11:00 p.m. on the night of the burglary and, once he was home, "[h]e came upstairs" and apologized, and then "proceeded to go on the computer and was on the computer until 12:30 in the morning." The juvenile's mother also testified she was absolutely certain the juvenile was home for the entire night because she periodically checked on him throughout the evening.

To rebut this alibi evidence, the State produced phone records and a Verizon representative's testimony, which demonstrated calls were made from the juvenile's cellphone while the phone was in the vicinity of the burglary, not in the vicinity of the juvenile's home, where he claimed to be. In response, the juvenile testified that Mohn borrowed his phone on the night of the burglary -- he claimed he placed it on his bedroom windowsill -- and did not return it until the next morning.

After weighing the evidence and making credibility findings, the trial judge found the juvenile engaged in the charged conduct and imposed consecutive sixty-day terms in a juvenile correction facility.

The juvenile appealed, raising the following arguments for our consideration:

I. THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION BY ADMITTING THE HEARSAY STATEMENTS OF J.B.'S CO-DEFENDANTS INTO EVIDENCE IN THEIR ENTIRETY, AS PRIOR CONSISTENT STATEMENTS ...


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